Face to Face

Data doesn’t tell the whole story. In order to better understand the impact of the mobile phones on women’s empowerment, we conducted follow-up in-person interviews. Out of all the women who we asked during our phone survey, 34 in total, all but one offered their time for a face-to-face follow up.

Over the course of a week, we conducted 8 of these interviews, some with women who still had their phones, and others who no longer had them. All of the women said that the phones had made a positive impact on their lives, particularly for business. One woman, who sells gas and fabric, reported using her phone over 100 times per day for business! In particular, she uses the phone for mobile money and contacting suppliers. Other women mainly used their phones to stay in touch with customers and arrange sales.

Interestingly, when we asked women if they thought we should continue the program of giving away phones, and whether it would be better to give about $20 in cash instead of a phone (roughly equal value), the result was very clear: give phones, not cash. The cash, they said, would be gone in no time, and perhaps not spent in the best manner. A phone, however, would be a continuous source of income if taken care of.

Once all the statistical analysis has been completed, we plan on writing up a more comprehensive report, and possibly writing another blog post somewhere else. so stay tuned, but this concludes my official Charles Center Summer Research Grant blogging. I am very grateful to my donor, the Charles Center, and everyone who worked with me on this project. It was a highlight of my college career thus far, and couldn’t have been possible without everyone’s support.


  1. Of the thirty-four women you distributed phones to, what, if any, were the parameters by which you gave phones out for? If it was intended to be random, could you discern any retroactive biases in your distribution? As an aside, what caused several of the women to lose access to their phones – having lost them thanks to chance, someone stole them, or were they destroyed in some fashion, etc?